Hockey pet peeve: "when a teammate tips a puck in on you, which is exactly how my first collegiate goal against happened. Thanks, Copper."
A quick look at Pennsylvania's top ten next year shows Michigan in like whoah. Though QB Terrelle Pryor and DT/OL Lucas Nix are long shots, Michigan is in on eight of the top ten according to the plugged-in Chris Dokish. Offers are out to the top six, and #10. #7 is CB Jared Holley, a guy who will get offered sooner or later.
The LA Times has an epic article on Jack Johnson.
All Hail English. Rivals declared him the Big Ten's best recruiter after his Lazarus job with Donovan Warren. Also on the list is Scot Loeffler.
Interesting bit from the Sports Economist on college basketball recruiting, which anyone will tell you is sleazy as all git out. It references this WaPo article on AAU teams, which increasingly structure themselves as non-profits and accept tax-deductible "donations" from boosters:
"You say, 'Let's talk,' " the college coach said. "You keep it going as long as you can until you can figure out a way around it or until you decide to donate maybe less than what they want just to stay in the equation. As soon as you say, 'No,' you are out. You have to do what you have to do to get the player."
Further evidence that Sonny Vaccaro should be shot into the sun:
Sonny Vaccaro, a prominent shoe company representative who helped create the current youth summer basketball league system nearly two decades ago, confirmed that the practice is popular, calling it "brilliant." "It is a unique, newer and cleaner way of getting money to people who have players who may or may not end up at your school," said Vaccaro, who now works for Reebok.
You can feel the slime oozing off the screen. Do not be alarmed. The Sports Economist makes a good point of its own:
it also is interesting evidence supporting the economic prediction that changing the rules about who gets the money doesn't change anything about whether or not it gets collected by somebody. I always find it interesting that people supporting the NCAA amateur requirement would rather see the money go to recipients like these "talent collectors." But that's just me.
OH SNAP. Chicago Tribune curmudgeon Sam Smith on blogs:
How is it I can work for decades developing contacts around the NBA and traveling regularly around the NBA and talking with the decision makers and some guy in his basement in his underwear is writing something that has credibility? As close as I can figure, these bloggers are the electronic version of the neighborhood tavern. You used to go in and hear people wailing about sports or politics and offering opinions on all the major issues. We did our man in the street interviews when such issues came up. Now, these people we used to ask for opinion started these blogs and are supposed to be experts. How can that be? I never see any of them, I never hear the coaches and general managers and players I talk to saying they talked to them. So where do they get their information?
People often doubt the traditional media, but we are out asking questions, developing sources of information and interacting with the participants. What are these bloggers doing? I'm fortunate on some level to be getting close to retirement because if these blogs are credible sources of information, there's no point in spending all the time on the road that I do.
Smith invokes MSM Media Fallacy #6 here: "blogs are trying to be just like newspapers because newspapering is the only thing that is valuable," but whatever. Then Smith wrote an article on the upcoming NBA trade deadline that featured not one but two quotes gathered by bloggers and failed to provide attribution. One of the liftees was Dan Steinberg of the DC Sports Bog, who noticed and... well... OH SNAP.
So: we've established that a Western split is probably good enough to keep them a TUC. Does it matter? A comparison-by-comparison look at the PWR.
(ie: Comparisons Michigan wins right now. Prefer all of these to be "Etched In Stone.)
- Denver. We own COP, but RPI is really really close and TUC is ridiculously close.
- Michigan State. H2H is tied. We have a significant COP edge that could go away since we're in the same conference. TUC is very close, RPI is very close.
- North Dakota. We win COP, but TUC and RPI are very, very close. NoDak's final four games are against TUCs, so there's a lot of wiggle here.
- Colorado College. We own COP and have a medium-sized RPI edge. TUC could go either way but as long as we're ahead of them in RPI we'll take the comparison.
- Cornell. No COP, they're well behind in RPI and have an ugly TUC record.
- Dartmouth. See "Cornell".
- St. Lawrence. We win COP and have a sizable TUC advantage that could go away if we lose WMU. Michigan has a 0.1 RPI advantage.
- Vermont. Same situation as St. Lawrence, but only if they do well in two games against BU upcoming.
Etched In Stone
- Lake State (or whoever is #25). Michigan will beat either Lake State or whoever replaces them simply by virtue of being well above .500.
- UMass. Huge RPI edge and we own COP.
- Michigan Tech. See Lake State.
- Niagara. See Lake State.
- Quinnipiac. See Lake State.
- Western. See Lake State.
- Wisconsin. H2H win and major RPI/TUC advantages. They win COP at the moment.
(Prefer these to be tossups.)
- Boston College. Michigan has an RPI advantage of about 0.1, which is probably going to stand. They've lost COP and can't get it back. BC currently wins the TUC category because they're 9-8-0 and Michigan is 9-8-1.
- Miami. We have a tiny RPI edge; they have a tiny edge in TUC and a decent-sized lead in COP. A lot of wiggle in this comparison since it's a conference team.
- Boston University. Michigan has lost COP and is far behind in TUC. If BU gets swept by Vermont and Michigan outperforms BU in their respective conference tourneys Michigan might get by, but it's doubtful.
- Maine. We've lost COP. TUC is dead even at 9-8-1; Maine has two left against TUC Vermont and a decent RPI advantage. If Maine coughs it up at the end of the season we could move past them; doubtful.
- St. Cloud. The Huskies have a brutal closing stretch against Minnesota and North Dakota and could conceivably lose their TUC advantage over us if Michigan plays well down the stretch. We own COP right now with two against Minnesota pending. It would take a hefty collapse by SCSU but it's not impossible.
Etched In Stone
- Clarkson. We've lost COP, don't have the games to make up TUC.
- Minnesota. Duh.
- UNH. Duh.
- ND. Duh.
(Aside: notice how we're killing WCHA teams in COP? This is largely because we only had to lose to Minnesota once. Some of these teams, good otherwise, are rocking 0-4 records versus the Gopher death machine. Another item to add to the Complaints Against The Pairwise.)
Without highly improbable events we have limited upside but limited downside. If we take all five tossups and nothing in the solid categories flip we'll be the last two-seed. If we lose all of them we have minor trouble, as we'll be tied for 12th with State. Since they win our comparison in this hypothetical scenario, they'll get the #12 seed and we'll be a couple of conference tournament upsets from getting bounced.
The good news: I don't think Western's TUC status matters all that much in terms of getting into the tournament. It will be hard to pull many of the tossups without that 3-1 boost, but the only way we can not make the tournament is by killing our RPI with bad performances against OSU and in the first round of the playoffs. Michigan's fate is entirely within its own hands. And with the vagaries of the PWR, where you actually get seeded is virtually irrelevant. I'd rather end up #12 than #9 and have to face Minnesota. (Unless Holy Cross wins the Atlantic Hockey tournament.)
Assuming at least a split versus OSU and a Michigan victory in their first-round playoff series, we are in, Western or no. If Michigan goes out and loses four straight, we're out, but assuming a reasonable performance down the stretch Michigan's tourney streak is not in jeopardy.
The status of Western Michigan, Lake State, and Ohio State is vitally relevant to Michigan's tournament chances. At this moment, both Western and Lake State are tentatively TUCs (assuming, as most do, a "good win" bonus of .003); Ohio State is not. Michigan plays OSU this weekend; Western and Lake State play at the Soo. All four games are critical for Michigan. Obviously, losing to OSU is bad but it gets even worse if getting swept shoves the Buckeyes into the top 25 in RPI, adding an ugly 0-2 to Michigan's TUC record. Michigan is 1-1 against Lake State and would probably prefer the Lakers to not be a TUC; they are 3-1 against Western and very much want those games to count extra.
This calculation was easier a year ago when there was a set threshold instead of a top 25, but we do what we must. With two games against a decent opponent, a Western sweep will retain their TUC status. The chasing teams don't have the opponents to pass the Broncos. Threat by threat:
- RIT plays Bentley, 55th of 59 in RPI.
- Sacred Heart plays Army, 44th.
- Lake State plays... uh... Western.
- MSU-Mankato plays Colorado College.
Only Mankato has the opportunity to break past Western if they sweep, and that would require an implausible sweep of their own. OTOH, if Western takes the pipe their RPI will drop to 0.4986. Though teams are going to bounce around madly over a weekend of play, as of right now that would be good for but 32nd. There's no chance they get swept and retain TUC status.
Is a split good enough? Maybe. They're 24th now, so one team can pass them. With a split Western will see their RPI drop to .5057 from .5100 -- not good. Both RIT and Sacred Heart are better than that now, albeit barely. Since they're playing crappier opponents than Western, if either one of them splits Western would stay ahead of them. Lake State will not pass Western with a split and Mankato needs three points from CC to make the leap. Past that you're looking for fairly improbable things to happen, like Bemjidi sweeping its last four games or Northeastern taking its last three, for anyone to pass the Broncos.
In sum: Western sweep is good. If they get swept they're gone. If they split we're rooting for Army or Bentley to take one of four games and for CC to not completely blow it against Mankato. The chances of that are around 75%, just to pull a number out of thin air. One of two should be good enough for now. The playoffs will also play a major role, but projecting out past the next couple games is fruitless.
Nasty, close your eyes and shiver scenario: That is, unless Michigan gets swept this weekend. That would propel OSU past Western into the 25th spot in the 75% scenario, replacing our 3-1 record versus them with a (hypothetical) 0-2 record versus Ohio State. Our RPI would plummet to 15th, our TUC record would get eviscerated, and the chances of an at-large bid would virtually flatline.
Moral of the story: do not lose to Ohio State this weekend.
All Hail Hunsick. The Detroit News on Sunday's Lake State game:
T.J. Hunsick scored twice for Michigan in a 3-1 Central Collegiate Hockey Association victory over Lake Superior State Sunday at Joe Louis Arena.
While we're on hockey, the current PWR is a perfect example of why the system is so very broken. Despite Michigan going 1-2-1 over its last four against generally mediocre competiton, they've moved up to seventh in the pairwise. Why? Western Michigan clawed its way into the top 25 in RPI by sweeping Michigan State last weekend. All of a sudden, Michigan's 3-1 record against the Broncos is deemed relevant. The result:
Where before Michigan was getting punished for stupid reasons, -- like having a 1-1 record against common opponents instead of a 1-0-1 record -- now they are rewarded for Western Michigan proving itself a little less mediocre. The TUC cliff in action, folks. Anyway: pull hard for WMU this weekend against Lake State.
Oldish Mallett article from the Daily. Has this passage:
With starting quarterback Chad Henne entering his final season as a Wolverine, Michigan coach Lloyd Carr has made it clear that Mallett won't redshirt this season. And the freshman seems fine with that.
"It wasn't my decision," Mallett said. "If they need me to play, then I'll play. If they want me to redshirt, then I'll redshirt."
We already knew that Carr said Mallett was unlikely to redshirt, something which bugs me on a regular basis. Last year Carlos Brown and Adam Patterson basically threw away a year of eligibility for scant garbage time against teams like Eastern Michigan and Notre Dame. Meanwhile, Prescott Burgess would be returning for a fifth year and a shot at being drafted in the first round if he had only taken a redshirt. I know Carr sometimes has to promise a recruit playing time as a freshman, but whatever salutary effects one gets out of 12 snaps versus MAC backups pale in comparison to a potential fifth year. Mallett evidently does not demand playing time and though the hype around him suggests that he won't be around for five years, that's hardly a guarantee. Unless Lloyd knows something about Jason Forcier that we don't, I would prefer him to redshirt.
We do hates them. Someone dropped a link to this in the comments of a Fanhouse post in which I declare my Irish antipathy:
Now my facebook profile picture.
Hire Rudy T? There's a movement afoot to make Rudy Tomjanovich the next Michigan basketball coach. I'm personally in the "Hire Anyone" camp, but Rudy T seems a decent choice. Remember the weird recruiting saga of Tory Jackson, who Amaker "backed off of" because of demands from his handlers? Yeah...
- Jackson was averaging 5.67 assists per game going into today's game, second in the Big East. USF freshman Chris Howard is leading at 6.18. The next best freshman if Villanova's Scottie Reynolds, seventh in the conference at 4.25 assists per game right behind Dominic James who is averaging 4.77 per game.
- Tied for second in the conference in steals, 2.08 per game. The next best freshman, Villanova's Reggie Redding, is seventh.
- ...Jackson has been climbing the Big East rankings in assists to turnovers ratio. He entered today's game fourth at 2.13. Only one other freshman, South Florida's Chris Howard at #8, is in the top fifteen.
Amaker's refusal to accept whatever demands Notre Dame did has left us in the
capable hands of Jerrett Smith, a guy Amaker offered as a sophomore. A suggestion for Amaker's post-Michigan career: Detroit Lions scout.
Etc.: Braves & Birds presents his life as a Michigan basketball fan in haiku.
Writing: wall. Helpfully pointed out in the comments, this MLive article contains a definitive hint that this is Lloyd's last year:
Signed by Carr on Dec. 21 of last year, the addendum calls for the school to set up a deferred compensation account worth $300,000 within 15 days of July 1, 2007. Carr will collect his money approximately a year later if he remains employed by Michigan "in any capacity, until July 1, 2008.'' According to the terms of Carr's contract, he will be appointed an associate athletic director at the university and draw his base salary when he retires as coach.
In a prior deferred compensation agreement that went into effect in 2005 and required $300,000 per year to be set aside for two years, Carr must work as "Head Football Coach'' until July 1, 2007 as a condition for receiving that money.
In a vacuum one might interpret this as just bookkeeping as Bill Martin suggests later in the article but, when combined with the multitude of rumors from insiders and outsiders and Carr's weird pre-OSU golf outing with Eli Zaret in which he cryptically declared that he had "come to a decision" about his future but didn't reveal what that decision was, all signs point to 2007 being Carr's final year as Michigan's head coach.
Well, that's horrifying. Genarlow Wilson. In jail on a bizarre technicality in Georgia law specifically repealed because of his case. The repealment is not retroactive, so he's serving a ten-year sentence for getting a hummer from a girl two years younger than him.
Ha ha. A lot of fans are just plain mad at the Martin Four for foisting this decade-long era of obscurity on our basketball program and make no distinctions between the transgressions of Chris Webber, who took money before he ever got to campus and did so with the full expectation that no one would be able to prove anything, and the Taylor/Traylor/Bullock trio who took money on campus from a guy who the program knew was trouble and had been established as a "booster" while there was an NCAA investigation going on. It would still be nice if Webber would say something like "that was a mistake and I wish it had never happened." An apology from Taylor/Traylor/Bullock would be pointless, since it would have no chance of making them anything other than reprehensible in my eyes.
News that Traylor has pled guilty to tax evasion for helping a drug dealer launder money is neither surprising nor unfortunate. It's karma.
Hockey! Ferris is bad and has lost sophomore forward Dan Reidel to academics, making them more bad. Badder. Well, not good, anyway. They're the worst team in the league other than hideously awful BGSU; a sweep is imperative, especially at home.
The other matchup to keep an eye on this weekend is Notre Dame and Miami going at it. A Notre Dame sweep just about locks up the league title. A split and they probably have it salted away anyway. A Miami sweep coupled with a Michigan sweep and the top of the league looks like this:
With all the games in hand being held by the right teams, that's tighter than a steer's tuckus. So that's what you'd like to have happen.
The Ann Arbor news has also noticed Naurato. WCH helpfully points out an article on 2009 Michigan commit Chris Brown oddly published by the USHL's website. (Odd because Brown is going to play in the NTDP for the next two years, then matriculate, and won't ever step foot on USHL ice if all goes to plan.) The article is slapdash -- there are exlcamation points in the quotes(!) -- but does indicate that Brown is unlikely to defect.
Also, Yost Built links to some St Michael's Buzzers dudes (St. Mike's is Cogliano's old school) that are coming in this weekend on recruiting trips. With Cogliano and incoming recruit Louie Caporusso Michigan is building itself a pipeline to Toronto.
Don't click play.
Basketball? Is terrible. Not even mildly competitive against good teams. We appear to be headed for the NIT again. Depressingly, the vibe out there is that six years of total failure is not enough for Michigan to go looking for a new head coach unless the rest of the season is a total mockery of the game of basketball instead of the merely thorough mockery it's been so far when not playing teams like Maryland-Baltimore County and Six Guys With One Arm Between Them.
This is not so much about losing by a bunch to the #2 or #3 team in the country on the road. It's more about the cumulative effect of all those blowouts and the inability of Amaker to get his guys to do fairly basic basketball things like box out or care.
Hockey. WCH links to this article on the NCAA's talent influx, which is obviously a good thing but has the unfortunate side effect of an (I hate) college basketball-esque spate of early departures. I don't know WTF the NHL is thinking when they make assertions like this:
Economic realities of the NHL's new collective bargaining agreement led observers to believe fewer players would leave early. The size of bonuses and salaries teams can offer draft picks has been significantly reduced, with the rookie maximum now at $850,000 per season. Still, Gophers freshman center Kessel, Wisconsin's Pavelski and Denver's Stastny, among others, bid adieu to their college teams.
NHL Executive Vice President Bill Daly points out that the current provision in the CBA was intended to encourage more student athletes to complete their college educations before turning pro.
"I'm not sure the empirical facts actually support the concern about more players leaving college early," Daly said, "but we are obviously monitoring those trends and will continue to do so as we develop more experience operating under the new CBA."
The new CBA is a disaster as far as keeping kids in school is concerned. A team's rights expire the summer after a player graduates, making it unlikely anyone makes it to their senior year. The rookie cap acts as an incentive to go whenever you get offered it: you cannot improve your bargaining position by failing to sign and you want to get that three-year contract out of the way so you can make more money. There are no boundaries on what NHL GMs can do to college teams. They often sign players on the very eve of the season, leaving NCAA teams in the lurch.
Whereas players leaving for the NFL or NBA must announce their entry into the draft a reasonable amount of time before next season, hockey's draft-and-follow allows kids to be plucked off campus at any time. Mike Cammalleri and Dwight Helminen both bolted at the last possible moment, Helminen just a week after Bryan Lerg switched his commitment to Michigan State because Michigan, lacking scholarships, wanted him to play a year in the USHL. Lerg is now leading MSU in scoring; his dwarf cousin is a decent goalie for them even if he's vulnerable to six-hole goals.
This is the long way of saying that this proposed rule change...
[Minnesota coach Don] Lucia is in favor of the NHL adopting a rule that a decision on whether a draftee signs a contract be made by mid-July.
...would be most welcome. This one?
One move discussed would prohibit a player who joins a college team from signing a professional contract for two years.
Not so much, unless you want to see the Erik Johnsons and Phil Kessels go to major junior.
Hey, stupidity. Hensick for Hobey? Not if he keeps scoring those hat tricks!
When's the last time a guy's stock dropped after scoring a hat trick? The three goals he tallied at Alaska Friday were Hensick's first scores since Thanksgiving weekend and other than the hattie, he's collected just five assists in the Wolverines' last nine games. What really hurts Hensick's candidacy, however, are his teammates. Junior forward Kevin Porter has 39 points to Hensick's 41, but he's got at least one point in 23 of U-M's 26 games. Sophomore forward Andrew Cogliano, meanwhile, has just 29 points, but he's been the most productive Wolverine over the last two months. Witness his 10-2â€”12 scoring line in eight games since Dec. 1.
So. Stupid. The reason Kevin Porter has 39 points? TJ Hensick. A hat trick plus five assists in nine games? One point short of a PPG. Nine games is the window because? The game before that he had four assists.
Dude. Some things I didn't know that I do know: TJ was injured for most of the Saturday game against Alaska and the CCHA mandates that a team can't go on the road after making said trip.
Um. Wow. The Hoover Street Rag gets all analytical about this "best conference" stuff and comes up with a few answers.
TMQuestionable. I hesitate to take issue with Gregg Easterbrook, since he's a Brookings scholar and if he deigned to notice criticism from this quarter he could probably kill me with bolts of pure mental energy, but... yeah. Here goes anyway. Latest TMQ:
Good as New England always is, its offensive strategy in the endgame seemed puzzling. Leading 34-31 with 2:39 remaining, facing second-and-8, the Patriots came out empty backfield. This is a clock-killer situation, run the ball! Short pass, Indianapolis timeout. Now facing third-and-4 with 2:30 remaining, the Patriots came out empty backfield. This is a clock-killer situation, run the ball! Incompletion stopping the clock, and the home team gets possession back with plenty of time.
Nein, TMQ. Nein. With 2:39 remaining and Indianapolis possessing timeouts and the two minute warning, running on second and third down would have resulted in a punt with at least 2:00 on the clock. This is a situation that occurs frequently and is just as frequently ill-coached. In this situation there is a huge benefit to gaining a first down -- game over -- and a clock stoppage on an incompletion costs little, as Indianapolis was going to stop said clock anyway. Weekly dispenser of high-falutin' coachin' advice and cheerleader cheesecake, heal thyself... and continue with the cheesecake.
Get this man a scrabble board. Brent Petway's quote before the Wisconsin game:
"We've been talking about it, we're ready to get back on the road," he said. "Everyone says we can't get a win on the road, so (Madison) would be the best place to put that stigma to rest."
Stigma? Used correctly, even.
Odd Mundy rumor. Apparently there's some rumor kicking around the Pittsburgh internets that Ryan Mundy is looking to transfer there. It was shot down by Chris Dokish of the Pittsburgh Sports Report on his blog. The reason:
d not have a scholarship for him so he would need to walk on.
Volumes about Mundy in on sentence and more fuel for the he-gone fire. (I previously asserted that Mundy would not return next year based on a solid tip.) At first blush such a transfer would seem impossible, but remember that the NCAA passed a new rule last year that allows players with an undergraduate degree to transfer without losing any eligibility.
Internets stalking for good. This is Cass Tech junior Boubacar Cissoko's Myspace page. Cissoko, a cornerback, was the MVP of the Army All-American junior combine. So... like, good.
Etc.: Interesting scouting-process-related quotes from various NFL personages from the Senior Bowl; Apparently, Rob Parker is regarded as the "worst columnist in America" by many. Who can tell?
Hello. It's livebloggin' time. Michigan plays in Madison against the #2 Badgers and projects to get ham sandwiched like you wouldn't believe, at least if you're a perpetually pessimistic Michigan basketball fan. And if you're not... why aren't you? Autism?
Anyway. Bo Ryan can do this:
So we're totally going to lose.
8:00 PM. Hey... the game is at nine. Uh. Nevermind. Catch you in an hour.
9:03 PM. I think this is the second thing that wasn't hockey I ever watched on Comcast Local. Not a good start for the color guy, who can't even read his "keys to the game." Courtney Sims is sporting a creepy 'stache. He wins the tap. Maybe this is like a creepy child-molesting Sampson thing.
So Michigan manages to miss three shots on its first possession, then gets a postup from Abram for a 2-0 lead. Everyone on the team has new haircuts. This is critical information. Tucker misses and Harris nails a deep three; we're up 5-0. Um. 7-0. Harris transition runner off glass.
Wow. We're 8th in the country in three-point shooting. Block inside, missed bunny, open Coleman jumper in transition goes down. 9-0. Offensive rebounds for UW lead to a Petway foul on Tucker; he's one of two and it's 9-1. And a Harris turnover; Harris turnover on the next possession. One of Wisconsin's players is rocking awesome glasses. Third straight turnover after Butch quote-unquote "threw down" Courtney Sims but was not called. First break: 9-3 Michigan.
We appear to have Petway on Tucker, which is an interesting attempt to neutralize their best player with a guy who can, like, block many things.
9:15 PM. I don't actually think Courtney Sims needs to stay out of foul trouble, as he's unnoticeable. Defensive breakdown leads to an Abram foul but two bricked FTs. We're getting jacked by the refs; weak foul on Coleman. Jerrett Smith: new haircut. Abram lets a cutter through for an easy hoop. Second straight bad play from Abram on defense. We follow it up with a turnover, and this is the Michigan basketball team we all know and barely tolerate. Another touch loose ball foul and we already have five fouls to Wisconsin's 0. (Turnovers: 4-0, Wisconsin.) Now 9-9; nice move by Butch.
9:20 PM. Smith carries the ball; turnover. Wisconsin's Guy Who Looks Like Chris Rock Guy all up in his face as the clock wound down after a Udoh offensive rebound. Tucker shoves away a Michigan defender and gets a foul; Bo Ryan is livid. Abram manages to pick up a 15-footer. And he picks up a foul(!). Second commercial break.
Udoh and Deshawn Sims have been in for this last little stretch and haven't done much. Big Ten Wonk's scouting report on Wisconsin has borne out so far. On defense they never try to block shots. They just stay in position, get their hands up and in your face, and make you shoot over them.
Wisconsin's student section: the "Grateful Red." Stupidest name in all of college basketball student sections?
Abram toasted again by some guy who sounds like his last name goes on a jar of sauerkraut; more dribble penetration, this one from Brian Butch... uh, sag off that guy? Sims got elbowed in the face on that play; no call. Wisconsin now leads for the first time, 15-13. Petway HUGE dunk. Stiemsma (this is not the proper spelling, I don't care) posterized and picks up a foul. Tied again. Super. Petway takes an obvious charge: blocking foul. Michigan now in the penalty with ten minutes left in the half. Smith gets called for traveling. Seven turnovers. We're keeping pace with the fouls. Another traveling call. I hate college basketball.
You know, it's really irritating to see Ryan bitch after every call against his team when they have three fouls and we have eighty seven. Udoh's first shot is an ugly brick... and hey, another off-the-ball foul. Eight minutes left in the half, Wisconsin by four. We have eight fouls and eight turnovers.
9:36 PM. Tucker has two fouls? This was not useful information for the announcers to relate when it happened? Sims hits a long hook shot. Bad shot, but it goes in. Feel the power of the creepy mustache. Sims travel; forget the mustache. Wisconsin turnover -- pass thrown into two guys -- leads to Udoh getting two on a nice post move that ends up getting goaltended. No... seriously, this Wisconsin team is like a polite version of Rasheed Wallace whenever called for a foul. Udoh runs over Butch on an innocent pass near the three point line. Unnecessary. I'd call it a freshman mistake, but... uh... yeah. Abram bricks a three; Deshawn Sims gets wildly out of position yield a dunk. Wisconsin by five. Abram brick; Sims foul in the backcourt leads to more Wisconsin foul shots. Front end of the one-and-one missed. Courtney Sims with a weak offensive foul. A turnover and a foul all in one; Guy Who Looks Like Chris Rock Guy nails a three. Jerrett Smith bricks a left-handed runner. Taylor fouled; more foul shots. I hate college basketball.
No, seriously, why do I do this to myself? Michigan's turnover and foul-filled badcoachingfest is only brought into starker relief when playing Wisconsin, a team that hardly ever does either of those things. I'm sticking to this 20-point rule, by the way.
9:48 PM. CSims fouled after a nice Smith pass to set up what would have been a dunk otherwise. CSims one of two. Udoh lets a guy in front of him for a two-pointer... turnover. I hate college basketball. A charging foul on Wisconsin. Smith sets up Udoh and gets him to the line and converts; UW turnover and another Smith pass that setes up a CSims layup. Wisconsin three. Sims dunk again; sealing Landry. Udoh block on Taylor; Landry block on Smith coming down at the end of the half. 33-26, UW.
Well: we've shot well and made a number of nice plays, but we've committed a ton of fouls and turnovers. Defensively we've let Wisconsin have a ton of easy opportunities, three of which can be left directly at Lester Abram's feet. Smith's played well. Harris missed most of the half after picking up two quick fouls, neither of which was particularly smart or necessary.
10:04 PM. 90% of the commercials at halftime have been for either the schools or the conference. It's like college hockey on FSN, where every ad is for some Ilitch-related enterprise like Little Caesar's or horrible miscarriages of acting at the Fox Theater or wherever. Feel the advertising dollars pour... somewhere else.
10:06 PM. Note: I think we only have three or four attempts from beyond the arc. Wisconsin has smartly limited our opportunities. Correction: we have TWO three-point attempts. (Space, bitches!) Part of that is Harris being out; part of it is not having anyone who can dribble penetrate, and part of that is just Wisconsin. Montage of the first half consist mostly of people bitching at the referees; no surprise.
Dude, Tucker, their best player by a country mile, only played five minutes in the first half and we were still down seven. Wooo Abram foul. Woo easy layup for Tucker. Woo bricked Harris three; woo layup for Wisconsin. Coleman comes off a screen deep into the shot clock and hits a tough fallaway. Woo? GWLLCRG misses a three; Sims takes a eighteen footer. We get a rebound the other end, it's stripped and Petway gives up the basket and a foul. Tucker picks up another foul and will have to sit again. And Harris picks up his third on the next possession. Woo. Wisconsin by 11 at the first commercial break.
>10:17 PM. A commenter suggests that the now-defunct "Gene Pool" at Purdue had a stupider name than the "Grateful Red," but I disagree. Both are stupid, but one at least refers to, you know, science and stuff instead of a band adored by Bill Walton.
Udoh commits another foul. Abram is visibly disgusted, and so am I. Wisconsin scores, Sims blocked. Harris left wide open for three; hideous brick. Another Wisconsin layup and a Michigan timeout. Wisconsin up 15; we are potentially two possessions away from the 20-point rule.
10:23 PM. Turnover! No. The Badger guy got a finger on it. Smith tossed the ball away when he had an open three. Harris does get a three, but bricked. Okay, this is ridiculous. Every trip down the floor Michigan picks up a ticky-tack foul. I, attempting to follow the magnanimous lead of Big Ten Wonk -- one of his "four dullest topics for a college hoops blog" is refereeing -- attempt to not go all tinfoil hat, but goddamn this home/away thing in the Big Ten is unbelievable. If you are on the road in this league you have no chance of getting a fair whistle. Petway's just fouled out with 12:43 left in the game, then he got T-ed up. A joke. A goddamn joke. I hate college basketball.
10:29 PM. Meanwhile, we've gotten a five-minute break for no particular reason. Feel the competence emanating from every pore on these referee's bodies. Abram hits a three; I'm torn because of the 20 point rule. DSims is awful defensively at this point in his career, allowing Landry to blow by for the easiest two points ever.
10:39 PM. Well, Jerrett Smith just got killed on a Graham-Brown-esque screen. He's down and staying down. Wisconsin ignores a Reed Baker-Tucker mismatch in the post and nails a three. Coleman with a jumper. Tucker hacked by Abram. Next possession for Wisconsin: Tucker blows by Abram. Wisconsin shooting 60%; Abram travel. Wisconsin up 19 with the ball. Tension! Udoh foul! Wisconsin hits a free-throw! Twenty-point rule invoked!
Empty today. Liveblog of Wisconsin-Michigan coming tomorrow. Prediction: pain!
So hey! At least for things that weren't football recruiting, this weekend was the anti-last weekend. I managed to miss the basketball game but did see the hockey team perform this "sweep" operation that is all the rage in Minnesota these days. Though it was hard to draw many impressions from the low-quality ESPNU feed -- it looked like it was delivered via caribou herd, though it's hard to get on anyone for televising college hockey games from Alaska -- and the sound-free broadcast, some bullets on the weekend.
Billy Sauer. I believe these will be the first unambiguously positive words I've ever written on they guy: unambiguously positive! Though he gave me the flaming heebie-jeebies at times on Saturday versus Northern (one sequence where Sauer was stuck in his net for seemingly forever, flailing around uselessly while play was going on elsewhere, stands out), he hasn't allowed a soft goal since at least the GLI. That's only four games, but that's something. Also he saved Michigan's bacon early in both games versus Fairbanks. At one point Saturday Michigan trailed 1-0 and was being outshot 22-8. He looked so poised late in that game that the panic about every shot heading towards the net that emerged midway through Montoya's junior year disappeared for a time.
Brandon Naurato? No... seriously, Brandon Naurato? A friend who shall remain shamefully anonymous said "there's a guy who won't play next year" after a goal from him -- it's been the kind of year where everything gets sarcastically assessed, even the good things -- earlier in the season. At the time it seemed plausible: Michigan brings in five forwards who are going to play and loses only two. If Cogliano, Porter, and Kolarik all stay he'd have to compete with Fardig and Hagelin for the last spot on the fourth line... as long as he doesn't spend the rest of the year scoring sick partial breakaways worthy of Hensick, firing critical cross-ice passes to set up tying-goal tap-ins, and having four-point weekends. The line on Naurato has been "boy, can he shoot... too bad he can't do anything else" for a year and a half now, but we may have to reassess him. Submitted that he's on a hot streak right now and he's not likely to keep up this torrid pace, but like Sauer he's had a bangup last four games. Now has 9-6-15.
TJ! I think TJ Hensick might be the best player I've seen at Michigan, a subset of players that goes back to '98. There's only one player in the conversation as a forward, and that's Mike Comrie. Even during the miserable 2-1 loss to Northern, your depressed correspondent found several tiny moments of pure joy watching Hensick do everything exactly right, setting up his teammates for scoring chances they couldn't finish. He's now the country's second-leading scorer; the leader plays for Air Force and thus against poor competition. (Nate Davis of Miami is tied with Hensick, but TJ has two games in hands.) I guess what I'm saying is: can we get a "Hobey Baker" chant at Yost? It's the least TJ deserves.
Hoback or Hoglind or whatever. Question for anyone in the know: is there a special Alaska ref who just does UAA and UAF games? I'd never heard of the guy they had doing the games this weekend. He seemed to do an all right job except for a tendency to put Michigan down 5x3 for two-minute chunks for little reason.
A friendly note amongst friends. As mentioned, I'm loathe to criticize anything when the luxury of a televised Michigan away game is kindly provided by ESPN or CSTV or whoever, but good Lord it can't be that difficult to get a penalty clock up. Combined with Ho-something's 5x3 carnivale, the U crew's inability to get Hockey Broadcasting 101 down would have caused several heart attacks if hockey was really popular. As it is, it just caused great irritation localized in me.
Huh? At least for the moment, Michigan is in position to receive an at-large bid to the NCAAs. USCHO's current pairwise has them in a tie for tenth with CC. I'll take a closer look at the individual comparisons sometime later in the season and attempt to determine our range of potential results; the pairwise is a notoriously flaky system prone to inexplicable swings.
Four CCHA teams are in the tournament as of right now: #4 ND, #8 MSU, #10 Michigan, and #12 Miami. No one else is in the top 25 in RPI. Interesting wild-card: the CHA's Niagara is on the cusp of an at-large bid. At #16 they'll have to move up at least two spots and hope that upsets don't happen in the major conference tourneys, but it's a possibility.
So: tourney streak has a shot, but Michigan's weak schedule down the stretch means they have precious little room for error. Hensick for Hobey. Naurato for Regular Contributor, 2007. Sauer for I'll Take Average And Like It.